RIO DE JANEIRO – After Team USA star Ryan Lochte and three other American swimmers were robbed at gunpoint on early Sunday morning, there’s been a renewed focus on whether Summer Olympic athletes’ safety is at risk if they venture out into Rio De Janeiro and away from their own facilities.
Australia, for example, has issued a curfew for its athletes, requiring them to travel in a vehicle between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. in Rio with no exceptions.
So should athletes stay hidden in Rio, or was this more of an isolated incident given the time (4 a.m.), the context (leaving a nightclub) and other factors?
The IOC was asked on Monday if it believes athletes should remain in their facilities for safety, rather than touring the city or hitting nightspots as the swimmers did. IOC spokesman Mark Adams encouraged athletes to continue venturing into Rio.
“I wouldn’t advise people to stay at their Olympic sites [to avoid security problems],” he said.
That said, Adams indicated that measures taken like those by the Australians are solely the discretion of those national committees. “I think national committee has to take the measures that are good for their athletes. Each one does different things,” he said.
When asked if they would be enacting a curfew or encouraging athletes not to venture out into Rio, USOC spokesman Matt Jones said, “We have reiterated our security protocols to all of our American athletes.”
“They pulled out their guns, they told the other swimmers to get down on the ground — they got down on the ground. I refused, I was like we didn’t do anything wrong, so — I’m not getting down on the ground,” Lochte told NBC News. “And then the guy pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead and he said, “Get down,” and I put my hands up, I was like ‘whatever.’ He took our money, he took my wallet — he left my cell phone, he left my credentials.”
Rio 2016 spokesman Mario Andrada said the investigation into the incident is ongoing by police. “The police reached some of the athletes yesterday. The police are looking for the cab driver who drove them back, who seems to have more information about this,” he said.
One point of lingering controversy from the Lochte incident was the IOC’s initial report that the story was false. At a Sunday IOC press conference, Adams initially said the reports of the robbery were “absolutely false” according to the USOC. Later, when asked again, he said, “all I can tell you is that I messaged USOC, and they said they spoke to Lochte and he said it was not true.”
Adams reiterated on Monday that he was just passing along what the USOC had told him during a press conference. “I can explain it very, very simply. What I said was that people asked me to give them an update. I contacted the USOC. They told me the story was not correct. I reported it was not correct. If I was asked to get an update from USOC, I gave an update from USOC and then I provided an update,” he said.
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